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Foreigners can't change name 'just to integrate'

The Local · 10 May 2012, 07:32

Published: 10 May 2012 07:32 GMT+02:00

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A judge in Göttingen, Lower Saxony, told a family from Azerbaijan that they could not change their names for German ones, Die Welt newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The couple and their three children wanted to take on German first names and a German family name in order to avoid discrimination and improve their chances of integrating.

But name changes are only allowed in Germany if the reason is considered important – and the judge said that the fact that the original names did not sound German was not enough.

He admitted that discrimination in the work place was “not to be ruled out,” but said it was not the job of a name to try to combat what he called a “social misdevelopment.”

The family’s names were not particularly difficult to spell, and would not give rise to puns or teasing, he said. The fact that the children had names relating to Islam should be no problem, he added, saying that others would not necessarily connect that with actively practising religion.

Story continues below…

A study showed last month that women and immigrants were more likely to get a job interview if applications were made without names.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:36 May 10, 2012 by rmarquina
Well, my name doesn't sound German at all, and a lot of my friends here have troubles or pronounce it in a very funny way. But this haven't been a barrier for integration, moreover, when people hear my name it gives a nice icebreaker.
09:59 May 10, 2012 by Ruhetag
I want to change my name to "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt"
11:24 May 10, 2012 by Dayzee

That's my name too
11:33 May 10, 2012 by The-ex-pat
My sister in law married a Brit, but the marriage ended 15 years later. She wanted to change back to her German maiden name. She was told that it was not possible. So she went to the UK and did it by deed poll, came back and presented the paperwork. They argued that it was not legal, not wanting to believe you could change your name in the UK. She stood her ground and after several weeks of being sent to the next desk for a decision it was finally accepted that yes it was legal and they had to accept that her name had changed. There could be a business opportunity here, a small paperwork and handling fee and you to can be Elvis or Pepsi Cola....................

Have a nice day

Holden McGroin.
12:30 May 10, 2012 by TheWonderer
Right so!

No people have to keep a low profile and blend in with their names but thinking has to change!

Only when people widen their minds they will recognize that we all have red blood, live on oxygene and food and dislike taxes - no matter whether you are caucasian, african, indian, asian or eskimo...

So stop lablling people (or falsing labels, in this case) but change the attitude!

The Wonderer
12:49 May 10, 2012 by furtfranker
I like paying taxes. I think we should pay more, as long as it's used properly.
13:47 May 10, 2012 by Sayer
The obit should read "Yeshua Bar Josef", the Aramaic, not the Hebrew.

Want to change your name? Go abroad, change it, get ID issued in the new name, and come back to tell the Rathaus that it is a fait accompli. ALWAYS better to ask forgiveness in Germany, never permission.
14:37 May 10, 2012 by The-ex-pat
@Sayer, ALWAYS better to ask forgiveness in Germany, never permission.

Outstanding, I must remember that one!
14:51 May 10, 2012 by gkh50
Ah, that is the reason why they did not accept my proposal of "Baron von Barthovermyshoes".

Baron von noname.
18:20 May 10, 2012 by doc holiday
Good decision. Why is everyone these days running from their real identity? It's a shame no one wants to celebrate who they really are and where they are from. Oh that's right, those who take pride in their identity are "right wing extremists".
21:07 May 10, 2012 by Englishted
What would happen if the family Hitler moved here from Austria?

Would that be grounds or not?
21:20 May 10, 2012 by murka
This startles me till this day - why is changing your name is forbidden in Germany? Where in many countries (including UK) is a matter of filing the new name of choice along with a check). What is is their problem? I am sure it is convenient for the bureaucratic system. But what does the state have to do with the person's wish to be called this or that? I talked about it with a Standesamt official, she told me that this particular piece of legislation is not too ancient, last revised around 1972. So, what the heck?
21:25 May 10, 2012 by smart2012
Hearing that people talk about this already shows that in Germany there is a lot of racial discrimination. Anyway, deutchland uber alles
22:12 May 10, 2012 by doc holiday
If you don't like it, don't live in Germany. That seems pretty simple. I find it interesting that people move to other countries and whine about the way they do things. The media loves to support this garabge and make the people fighting for their language, culture, traditions etc. look like they are in the wrong.
22:47 May 10, 2012 by ovalle3.14
@doc holiday

If a local complains about something in their own country, it's called activism. But if a foreigner (who sometimes didn't even actually choose to be in said country) complains, it's being whiny?
23:55 May 10, 2012 by narfmaster
I find it interesting that the project of integration in Germany is supposedly dead when here we have a family that wants to erase everything not German about them and they are not allowed! Why is it a surprise that integration is not happening when it is not permitted?
01:50 May 11, 2012 by jeff10renatus
@ Ruhetag and Dayzee:

Well, whenever I go out, the people always shout, there goes John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.
08:13 May 11, 2012 by Arch Stanton
Ironic ... When my German ancestors came to the U.S. from Nordrhein-Westfalen and Rheinland-Pfalz in the 18th century, their names were Anglicized so they would fit into the American society.
10:42 May 11, 2012 by franconia
@ Arch Sorry to say, they also changed their names because of severe discrimination and fear in 1914-18 . The US was one of the worst. Thousands of street names and names of towns had to be changed. Eh, they forgot Stuttgart, Arkansas.
15:53 May 11, 2012 by onemark
@ murka:

You CAN change your name in Germany; it's just a bit more difficult because the relevant legislation is more restrictive. God knows why.
21:55 May 11, 2012 by murka
@ onemark:

So, why didn't they change it than?

Yes, the legislation allows you to change your name to Mueller if you run a mill. Welcome to the 21st century.
01:15 May 14, 2012 by rwk
yeah, so I can go change my surname to Graf von Iceberg when I am in the US, and when I get my residency in Germany, will they have to accept it? I think it would be funny. But on a more serious matter, I am not sure how the name issue should really be handled. Some people change their names to avoid debt or notoriety, whereas others just want a new life and there should be no socially valid reason for preventing them from changing their name in order to facilitate this.

I wonder if I could change my name to Christian Gerhardsreiter?
10:41 May 15, 2012 by Asgarli
You can easily change your name to German one once you naturalize, which means these people are still foreign citizens. And of course Germany cannot change the names of foreign citizens, are you guys insane?
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